Taking Carter “Home” to Camp

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In the past six years we have not seen Carter on the fourth of July because she has been at Camp Cheerio as a camper. This year Carter has graduated from camper to CIT, that’s Counselor-In-Training to all you British readers. It is an experience she has been looking forward to probably since she was a second year camper.


The only hard part about being a CIT this year is that she had to decide between doing the Girls session or the Co-ed session, since she has been a camper at both sessions. I think that her cabin in her last co-ed session last year was such a cohesive group of friends that tipped the scales in favor of co-ed.


The anticipation rolling up to this day has been huge. There were Facebook groups for the CIT’s and group chats and lots of discussion about what to bring and if they all had T-shirts in every color of the rainbow for nighttime activities. We packed our old Land Cruiser this morning full of trunks, plastic bins of clothes, sleeping bags and pillows. We keep this old car just so we can take Carter to and from camp.


Keeping in our camp tradition we took Shay Shay with us and stopped at the tavern at Old Salem for lunch since they have outside seating that welcomes dogs. It was the only part of the day that felt at all like the 4th with a bluegrass band playing music while we dined, except when they took a break so the Declaration of Independence could be read out on the Main Street.


We arrived at camp fifteen minutes early and Carter got out of the car to greet her wonderful friends who were equally excited to be back on the mountain, “At Home,” as Carter calls it. A counselor with the ubiquitous clipboard came down the road while our cars were parked waiting for the gates to open and told us which cabin Carter was assigned to. Since she had been a camper in so many different cabins she knew immediately that she had been assigned to the cabin of the youngest campers for the first session.


After the check-in with lots of hugs for old camper friends and counselors alike we went to the parent-CIT meeting. Michaux Crocker, the camp director, gave an inspiring talk about what life was going to be like for our kids. He talked about hard work and leadership and that this experience will help kids figure out if they even like working with children. The one thing that summed it up for me was when he said, “You go from being a camper where everyone is focused on making sure you have a good time, to being the people who are making sure the campers are having a good time.” That is a big step to growing up as far as I am concerned.


After explaining what CIT life will be like, learning to look people in the eye and with a big smile say hello or ask how they are, he talked about the terrible accident that happened at the beginning of the summer. I could feel the pain that was still very close to the surface in him. Cheerio had never had an accident in 50 years of camping, but one hurt badly. Life has to go on and I feel like Carter is in the best place ever to learn about herself. It is a place with so much heart. When Michaux ended the meeting with, “give your kids a hug goodbye and head on home,” I was ready to leave Carter to get her training before the campers arrive tomorrow and for her to move up to the next rung of the ladder to adulthood.

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